On hearing the news Friday that he would not face perjury charges for his testimony to the Illinois House impeachment committee, Sen. Roland Burris proclaimed in a statement that “the truth has prevailed.” Forgive us, senator, if we disagree.
On hearing the news Friday that he would not face perjury charges for his testimony to the Illinois House impeachment committee, Sen. Roland Burris proclaimed in a statement that “the truth has prevailed.”
Forgive us, senator, if we disagree.
If anything, semantics prevailed in the latest “victory” in Burris’ short and turbulent Senate career. Truth, in its purest sense, has been a victim of this sorry debacle from the start.
This goes back to Burris’ initial nomination. As we said in December, and as we have repeated many times since, Burris’ very acceptance of this nomination by Rod Blagojevich — the man accused of trying to sell the seat to which he then nominated Burris — was proof of his unfitness for membership in the U.S. Senate. That Burris has never managed to comprehend this only puts his lack of judgment — and his ego — into sharper focus.
We agree with Sangamon County State’s Attorney John Schmidt that Burris probably did not commit the legal definition of perjury in his testimony before the Illinois House impeachment committee in January. Schmidt, who must prove his claims in a court of law, must be cautious in parsing Burris’ words.
Here in the court of public opinion — which is the court of Burris’ unfortunate constituents — we take a broader view. In his testimony, Burris told the committee he had contact only with Blagojevich associate Lon Monk prior to his appointment.
Rep. Jil Tracy then asked Burris, “So you don’t recall that there was anybody else besides Lon Monk that you expressed that interest to at that point?” Burris answered, “No, I can’t recall.”
Miraculously, after he was seated in the Senate (following a circus-like show among all parties involved), he “recalled” that he spoke to the governor’s brother, Rob, three times about the Senate vacancy. Oh, and he also “recalled” that he spoke to Blagojevich’s chief of staff, John Harris, who was later arrested on the same morning as the governor.
He revealed those recollections in an affidavit he filed with the committee because, he said, he was “not given the opportunity” to mention them in his testimony.
We'll go out on a short limb here and suggest that the “anybody else” in Rep. Tracy’s question would, to any witness concerned about truth, include the brother of the man whose impeachment was the subject of the hearing. We believe any thoughtful witness also would have managed to “recall,” when asked, speaking to the chief of staff of the soon-to-be-impeached governor.
But there we go again. Operating in the court of public opinion.
Were he not blinded by his desire for the title he now holds, Burris would have realized long ago that ultimately that is where he and his legacy will be judged. Legal decisions aside, this is where we believe the truth someday will prevail, and not in favor of Burris.